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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wicked Stick Is Still A Daly Pleasure!

Wicked Stick: Five Things You Need to Know

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Wicked Stick is one of the Grand Strand's most player friendly layouts.
Wicked Stick Golf Links opened to great fanfare in 1995 just months after John Daly, who helped design the course, won the British Open. With a two-time major champion’s name on the sign, Wicked Stick enjoyed immediate attention.

Sixteen years later, Daly’s name and an enjoyable round of golf continue to attract people to Wick Stick, one of the area’s most player friendly layouts. Before teeing it up at Wicked Stick, here are five things you need to know.

Grip It and Rip It: As one would expect from a course with the free swinging Daly’s name on it, Wicked Stick offers plenty of opportunity to pound the ball, including two of the longest holes along the Grand Strand. The 611-yard, par 5 11th hole is Myrtle Beach’s fifth longest and according to legend, Daly can get home in two. Even more daunting is the 7th hole, a 265-yard par 3. Players need to grip it and rip it on those two holes.

He Did More Than Lend His Name: Daly was actively involved in Wicked Stick’s design, visiting the course several times throughout its development. When the seventh hole was still in its formative stages – only a dirt bowl that would be the home of the green was complete – Daly pulled a mat out of a truck and walloped a ball with his three iron that ended up in middle of the green site. Daly declared that spot the home of the seventh tee. It was 265 yards from the green, making it the Grand Strand’s longest par 3. No word on whether anyone has replicated that shot since.

Teeing It Up: We’ve made much of the length of the seventh and 11th holes, but that distance is from the Daly tees, where few people play. On balance the length of the course is very manageable. As a matter of fact, the blue tees at 6,507 yards and the white tees at 6,080 yards are perfectly placed. If you are skilled enough, good luck from the Daly tees at 7,001 yards.

Was That Who I Thought It Was?:  Don’t be surprised if you see Daly at Wicked Stick, particularly if you are in town around the annual Hootie & The Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am. Daly stops by and occasionally plays the course when he is in town for the event.

Location, Location, Location:
Wicked Stick is located right off Highway 17 Bypass, meaning it’s just minutes from the airport, and players drive by it going north and south. It is one of the Grand Strand’s most accessible courses.

Wicked Stick: Three Best Holes

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The 18th hole is one of Wicked Stick's best.
Wicked Stick Golf Links, the only John Daly signature course, was designed with the idea of letting traveling golfers enjoy the grip it and rip it game that Long John helped popularize. The fairways are generous and bombing the driver is encouraged, but the layout offers a diverse and enjoyable round.

We asked head pro John Thomas to share the course’s three best holes. He obliged.

No. 7, 265-yard, par 3: The Grand Strand’s longest par 3, No. 7 is an absolute monster from the Daly tees. It’s long but manageable from the blue (205 yards) and white tees (188 yards). There is a pond on the right and a green with a surplus of undulation.

“Par is a good score,” Thomas said. “There is a pretty deep pot bunker on the front right, a shallow bunker on the back left and you play into an egg shaped green with a big elephant buried in the middle of it.”

Good luck!

No. 9, 403-yard, par 4 – Wicked Stick’s ninth, one of the course’s more scenic holes, demands a quality approach. Water fronts the green so there is no coming up short, and the challenge is substantial.

“There is water to the left and mounds (off the tee), but it’s really wide open,” Thomas said. “You don’t have to hit a driver. Whatever you can get to 150 yards, that’s what you want to hit off the tee. You have to hit the green (on the approach).”

No. 18, 528-yard, par 5 –
A risk-reward hole, there are several different ways to play No. 18. It’s a dogleg left that offers players the chance to go for the green in two, but it’s a risky gambit. Most players that dream of an eagle, attempt to pound the drive to the corner of the fairway and hit a long iron into what amounts to an island green.

Playing 485 yards from the white tees, even mid to high handicappers can be tempted after a long drive, but most play it safe.

“Most people play it down the right side about 260 out then layup,” Thomas said

Sounds like a smart way to finish a good round.

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